Every now and then, you hear a name that stands out.
Ithaca High’s Jackie Cornell has one of those names for obvious reasons. And while she is a direct descendant of Ezra Cornell, founder of the prestigious Ivy League institution, she is one of a select few at her school for another reason.
Cornell is a three-sport athlete for the Little Red, and the three sports could not be more different. She suits up for Ithaca’s cross country team in the fall, the ice hockey squad in the winter and the rowing team in the spring.
Crew is Cornell’s newest sport, as last year was her first, but the gifted senior has been playing hockey since age 6. She started running competitively in 7th grade.
This fall, Cornell is captain on Coach Rich Bernstein’s cross country squad, which has won three consecutive Southern Tier Athletic Conference championships. It’s just recompense for an athlete who has contributed from her early years.
A West Division cross country all-star last season, Cornell finished seventh at the STAC championships as both a sophomore and junior, and this season looks poised for another high finish . Cornell placed 25th at the Manhanttan Invitational last week, covering the 2.5-mile course at historic Van Cortland Park in the Bronx in 16 minutes, 4 seconds.
In this week’s “Five Questions,” we ask Cornell about her famous last name, her role as captain and her athletic talents:
What is your relation to Ezra Cornell, and what is it like carrying that name?
He’s my great, great, great, great grandfather. I think it’s cool. I think it would be really cool to go to Cornell. My sister (Katherine) went there and my father went there. I’m applying early.
How do you judge your team’s momentum heading into the conference meet in two weeks?
We’ve been doing a lot of really good training this summer and this fall, and I think we’re really well prepared. I think we’re feeling pretty good about it. We’re just going to go into it and everybody’s going to give it their all.
What is your role as captain?
It’s really about leading a group of people and you really have to be confident in what you do. We lead the warmup, we just kind of keep everybody together and keep confidence levels high. It’s really a compliment to be a captain of this team. It’s a really great program.
Do you have a favorite cross country course?
I really like our Ithaca College course. There’s a hill in the middle of it called “Everest” and it’s this really steep hill that kills all of us, but it’s a really great feeling to get to the top of it. You feel like you’ve accomplished something.
What is it like being a three-sport athlete?
I like having three different sports instead of just one. You kind of tire out one muscle group and then you move on to the next one, and I like the variation. They’re all very different. Running is more of an individual sport and I like having the team sports also.